La Morra

My Fiat Cinquecento buzzes

down the hills of Barolo to my first appointment

and I try not to stall the engine…again.

 

We dubbed the Fiat St. Benito,

patron saint of lost tourists

and tight roundabouts.

 

St. Benito speeds through a maze

of dirt roads

past an orange sign we translated detour…

or was that dead end?

 

I practice “I am sorry for being late”

in Italian and try not to chuckle

at the word, ritardo.

 

As my foot hits the freshly scrubbed floors

of the hundred-year-old cellar,

I am enveloped in a scented stream

of yeast, Barolo and bleach.

 

Stainless steel soldiers line up along the wall

holding bold Barberas

awaiting their coming of age.

 

Barriques of Slovenian wood

soften year-old Nebbiolo

imparting hints of oak for balance.

 

The tulip-shaped Riedel balances in my hand.

Its fragile, soft stem supports my tendency

to over-swirl as I tilt the glass

to examine the rich, red wine.

My palate plays with pepper and spice,

raspberry and chocolate.

 

dolcetto,

barbera,

barolo,

nebbiolo

 

06, 07, 08, 09

 

La Signora holds a turkey baster

full of wine from the top of the barrel

of last year’s harvest.

The baster is a wine thief in English

and I ponder if I could

slip out a half-empty bottle

of Riserva in my giant red travel bag.

 

I savor the young, purple, yeasty offering

and wonder if it will round with age

like a woman after childbirth.

 

The sun sets over the

vine-covered hills of the Langhe

bending its orange glimmer through my glass.

 

Scribbles and ratings line my brown leather journal

a remembrance of tasting

twenty wines in four hours.

 

I hope St. Benito knows the way home!

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